A first trip to the theatre: how baby-friendly is Warwick Arts Centre?

In a word… very!

We’ve just returned home following our visit to see the festive production Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas at Warwick Arts Centre. This was our baby’s first trip to the theatre – we were apprehensive about how well he would cope and he absolutely loved every second of it.

He’s just ten months old (next week) and whilst a show like this isn’t necessarily aimed at babies, the age guidance was 3+ and running time just 60 minutes, so I was keen to see what our little man would think. He has enjoyed the atmosphere of baby cinema screenings before so I did have high hopes. And I was right… he sailed through the entire thing with a smile.

Pre-show, we’d actually had a bit of a rough night and morning because we’re popping our fifth tooth, and as we left the house that day with a really tired baby I said to my husband, “I’m starting to think this wasn’t a good idea.” But on the contrary, an hour of theatre seemed to be just what the doctor ordered.

All teething concerns were put on hold whilst he felt peaceful in the darkness, gazing open-eyed at the striking lighting changes, tapping his legs to the live music and even trying to laugh when he heard other kids giggling. This is something he hasn’t done before and it nearly made me cry with happiness, to see him wanting to join in with others in a shared space – just what theatre is all about and he knew it already!

Facilities get a thumbs up from me. There’s plenty of foyer space to leave prams, lots of baby-changing facilities and a spacious family-friendly cafe that has loads of room for prams too (large gaps between tables isn’t always the norm and can get annoying). Plus, parking at the weekend is free and there are various car parks to choose from (huge yay).

In terms of booking tips, if you’re thinking of going yourself, babies do need a ticket for admission but those under 12 months go free (for a play like this which is not directly designed for that age group). I requested seats at the back and on an aisle, just in case we needed to nip out of the performance, but I really didn’t need to. There was plenty of room in the aisles and in between seats, and at 11am on a Saturday, the room was filled with families only (and at least half a dozen other babes in arms, who seemed to be just as happy as Jax was). A handful of people were in and out changing nappies and so on – it was really nice to be in a theatrical environment where staff, audience members and actors don’t make a fuss of this being the case. I felt really confident that we could have popped out if we had needed to.

The entire building and cafe space is huge so even on a weekend, it didn’t feel heaving. Packed spaces can add to anxiety when doing things for the first time with a new baby, but due to its location out of any jam-packed town centre, the whole venue makes for a pretty chilled and quiet spot away from the noise. I think this calm environment made us all feel relaxed from start to finish.

I can’t believe that we live just 20 minutes from Warwick Arts Centre and haven’t taken advantage of it more in the past. Now that we’re a party of three and have become more picky about what we do and where we go – I’m definitely adding WAC to the top of my list of favourite spots.

As a new mum, I seem to be embracing Christmas more than I used to because I’ve realised that when you create happy traditions, you make happy memories (and a happy life) for your children. I know we’ll return before then but we’ll definitely be seeing Warwick Arts Centre at the same time in 2020. Today, we all wore our Christmas jumpers, took family photos in front of the gorgeous tree, enjoyed mince pies in the cafe afterwards and tonight post-bath we’ll sit down and read the Raymond Briggs’ book of the same story to our son before bed. I think our first Christmas together is off to a pretty perfect start!

Theatre tickets courtesy of Warwick Arts Centre
Photography: Warwickshire Mama and (bottom photo) Father Christmas at Warwick Arts Centre